The British Peace Support Team, Eastern Africa (BPST(EA)), on behalf of the British Government, has today donated a 20-feet containerised armoury and a number of laptops to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) for safe custody of arms and to help in the fight against poaching respectively.
Colonel Richard Leakey, the Commander BPST (EA), handed over the armoury and nine laptops to KWS security personnel led by the Deputy Director in-charge security, Mr. William Sing’oei, at the KWS headquarters along Lang’ata Road in Nairobi this morning. The armoury and laptops are destined for Lake Nakuru National Park.
BPST(EA) plans to shortly supply a similar containerised armoury to Meru National Park.
Colonel Leakey said the donation was a testimony of the close relationship between BPST(EA) and KWS and pledged more support in capacity building in arms use and management.
BPST has supported a training programme for KWS personnel on arms and ammunition accountability management, specifically for uniformed personnel managing armouries and their officers in charge.
Late last year, BPST(EA) offered to help KWS build its capacity and professionalism in the field of weapons and ammunition accountability and management to help minimise cases of misuse and leakage.
The following KWS stations were sampled in training needs assessment before the program was implemented: Nakuru, Aberdares, Meru, Tsavo East, Tsavo West, Chyullu National Parks, KWS Law Enforcement Academy Manyani, KWS Training Institute Naivasha and Problem Animal Management Unit (PAMU) Kiboko.
During the assessment, other challenges such as lack of adequate arms and ammunition storage spaces were found.
However, while the current arms and ammunition accounting/control system was adequate it was felt necessary to tighten the system by improving and simplifying accountability methods. To this extent, a pilot training programme was run in August 2016. By mid-December 2016, 44 KWS officers of the rank of rangers to assistant wardens had been trained under this program. The 44 individuals were drawn from four conservation areas namely: Tsavo, Coast, Mountain and Central Rift.
During the training needs assessment, it was noted that Lake Nakuru National Park had a serious challenge in storage of arms and ammunition after the park lost its armoury. This was when its administration block was submerged due to flooding in 2015.
Currently, the park’s arms and ammunition are stored in a small armoury and to address this dilemma, BPST(EA) commissioned the construction of a containerised armoury, which has proved to be an ideal solution for Nakuru.
The training is sponsored by BPST(EA) and the course was run by weapons specialists from the British Royal Marines being managed by Mr. Philip Figgins, SALW Advisor of the BPST(EA).
BPST(EA), a regional organization, is incorporating other Eastern Africa countries in the program. This particular phase has allowed KWS to work directly with peers in neighbouring countries towards a common aim of better controls of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and ammunition, exchanging information for best practices and being an integral component for regional peace support operations and to help counter the proliferation of weapons and ammunition.
So far, five officers from Uganda Police and Wildlife Authority have been trained at the KWS facilities namely; KWS LEA in Manyani and KWSTI in Naivasha. From next month, the program will be rolled out to the remaining conservation areas namely, Western, Eastern, Southern and Northern.